Honestly, everyone can moan about the town they live in and the Dish Detective has heard several grumbles about Fareham in recent years - shopping has gone downhill, market isn’t what it was, closure of Debenham’s, the short-lived store that was Beales, etc etc - but the DD thinks only with their stomach and so has a slightly different focus.
We look with envy at the restaurants on the old high street, and dream of being the person who would/could go there.
But our current status is far more attuned to the far end of West Street, where there are proper local treasures to unearth. By all means be attracted by the record shop, fishing store, Oxfam bookshop, and alehouse - all excellent additions to a street - but goodness me stay for the cafes.
We’ve been to Stones, and we loved it. A 1950s/1960s feel of how cafes should be - quick, cheap, tasty, filling, quality - a group of people who really know what they are doing.
We’ve been to Crumblejack, and you know what? We loved it there too. Friendly as hell, great bread, good cakes.
And now, after walking past it goodness knows how many times, we’ve finally had a meal at the Garden Shed Cafe. And it. Is. Great.
For some reason the DD had always thought it was scruffy inside but that just goes to show that the DD is an idiot, as the first impression is of how pristine everything looks. As the DD was accompanied by the sophisticated tastes of a four-year-old and a two-year-old, this wasn’t without its potential pitfalls, though.
We went in for an early lunch one sunny day to cater for the fact that the children become starving hungry at 11.30am. Their lunch therefore dovetailed with my late breakfast (as there is no time for an adult to eat when refereeing their own breakfast at 6.30am), so we were all happy.
Strike one – a large breakfast for me. Everything about this was great - sausages, bacon, eggs, hash browns, black pudding, tomatoes, beans and even bubble and squeak. Not enough places do bubble and squeak, and those that do often make a mess of it, by turning it into nothing more than fried mashed potato. Not here. Top marks.
The children wanted fish fingers and chips but the fish batter turned out to contain milk - a no-no for a dairy allergy but dealt with confidence-inspiringly by the kitchen - so we had one fish finger and one sausage and chips. Both were great, and the children - astonishingly well behaved by their standards - were quiet for a while, determinedly cleaning their plates (although the little one took a shine to my beans and so that was that).
While we are in there, there is a steady stream of customers, many of whom know the staff - it’s that kind of place. You can see why it gets repeat custom and indeed it will from the DD. Our bill came to just under £23 for the three meals and two drinks for the kids, which may not be as cheap as cooking for yourself but knocks spots off any comparison with a meal at a golden-arched international fast-food franchise a couple of hundred metres down the road.
Again, we say, Fareham, you don’t know how lucky you are - treasure your gems, and glory in how well they do what they do.